9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

Homeschooling in the U.S. has exploded in recent months. According to the United States Census Bureau, by fall of 2020, “11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12)…That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.”

Such a statistic doesn’t surprise me, as even in my small town, the rate of children being homeschooled has increased dramatically. People have chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons, including religious reasons, more freedom, and situations regarding the pandemic.

Whatever the reason, homeschooling can be a daunting task. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, there will be days that are challenging and times when you want to give up.

So how can you successfully jumpstart your homeschool year? Here are 9 ways.

Make sure you have a support system. Find a mentor, join a co-op, and join an online group. If you are married, enlist your spouse’s support. Having an extended family who supports your decision is also helpful.

Take it slow. Give yourself and your children permission to wade through the change in schooling with grace. Too often I hear from parents who attempted to homeschool say that it just didn’t work out for them. When I ask how long they were homeschooling, they typically answer with a length of less than a few months. Give it time.

Focus on what matters. If we get so caught up in finishing each textbook, having our children excel in every subject, or making sure they participate in every possible extra-curricular activity, then we have missed the point.

Be organized (or attempt to be). Notice I didn’t say “be perfectly organized”. In order for your homeschool to function, you will need to have some organization. It helps to have a dedicated cupboard for textbooks, science experiments, art supplies, etc. Because homechooling is so versatile, it can happen in an actual homeschooling room, at the kitchen table, or even outside on a nice summer day.

Expound on your kids’ interests. No child is exactly the same when it comes to interests. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can expound on what your child enjoys. For instance, my oldest daughter loves to write, so I assigned her a “novel in a year” project, which was one of her favorite assignments. She also loved woodworking and built a dresser with her dad (the woodworking teacher!). History was a favorite of hers, so we focused heavily on that subject as well, and graphic arts and an extra emphasis on editing led her to starting her own editing, website-building, and graphic arts business.

My youngest daughter loves science, so collecting bugs, inspecting things beneath the microscope, science experiments, and anything related to science labwork intrigued her. She also loves to fix things and is very mechanical. I used that opportunity to call upon her whenever something broke and turned it into a learning experience. A friend of ours taught her how to quilt, which instilled in her a love for sewing.

Both girls enjoy baking, so making treats for neighbors, youth group, and homeschooling events was something I included on the homeschool syllabus. Both of my girls are athletes, so we spent many an hour riding bikes, joining 5k runs, playing volleyball, badminton, and soccer, going on walks, and hiking in the nearby mountains for P.E. class.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that we can think outside the box and tailor our children’s learning experiences with their interests.

Be creative with teaching techniques. Be open to changing curriculum if one doesn’t work. We changed curriculum many times. (This is why it’s a good idea to find used curriculum for sale, as it can get pricey). Not every child has the same learning style, so passing one curriculum type on to the next child does not always work. An important thing to remember in homeschool is that one size does not fit all.

In addition, one homeschool type will not fit all children’s needs. We personally chose an al a carte approach that includes a variety of textbooks from many different publishers, some online learning from homeschool providers, some co-op classes, and some unschooling techniques as well. Other parents choose to have their children enrolled in homeschool online learning only or one company’s curriculum, such as Abeka, Sonlight, or the Charlotte Mason Method. Still other parents choose strictly the unschooling route.

The key? Choosing what works for your family.

Glean ideas from current and veteran homeschooling families about what worked for them. The nice thing about homeschooling? If one method doesn’t work, there are other methods you can try.

Don’t compare your homeschool, yourself, or your children to others. Just as each parent and child are unique, so is each homeschool. Embrace that.

Breathe.

And most importantly? Give your homeschooling year to the Lord. When we commit our ways to Him, He guides our steps.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

you might be a homeschool mom if (15 clues)

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

the video camera is always on, part 3

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

tools to help your child succeed in life

Our culture bases success on many things. It may be an advanced education, a sprawling home, a good job, a multitude of friends, nice vehicles, frequent vacations, and the list goes on.

While none of these things are wrong, they’re not what truly makes a person successful.

What if we used a different ruler with which to measure? What if we looked within the heart and focused instead on character, integrity, and honor rather than the appearances of seemingly surface items? What if we viewed success through a different lens than what the world teaches us?

What if we, as parents, pulled the following tools from our parenting toolboxes to help our child succeed in life?

* Help them to develop a strong faith.

*Model for them the importance of a vibrant prayer life

*Instill in them to have gratitude, rather than a heart of discontent.

*Teach them the importance of honesty.

*Teach them to have integrity and to do the right thing, even if no one is watching.

* Teach them to stand up for what is right, even if they stand alone.

*Instill in them the importance of doing everything as if doing it for the Lord.

*Teach them to forgive easily and to not hold grudges.

*Instruct them on how to have humility and the maturity to admit when they are wrong.

*Gently remind them often that the world does not revolve around them, but rather, to count others as more important than themselves.

*Be an example of what it is like to show grace to others, especially when it’s undeserved.

*Train them to have a strong work ethic.

*Model for them the importance of keeping your word.

*Teach them the value of inner beauty.

*Model the importance of overlooking an offense.

*Teach them to love their country and to pray for her on a regular basis

We, as parents, have an important role in modeling for and training our children in the things that truly matter. Someday when we are no longer on this earth, we won’t have taken our college degrees, fancy houses, and expensive vehicles with us. But we will have made an impact on the lives of others when our main focus was living for Jesus.

May we, as parents, make it our goal to instruct our children wisely in the things that matter to Him.


Before you go, check out these other posts!

8 things I want my daughters to know

the video camera is always on part 1

how to survive in an out-of-control world

for such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

15 verses for strength in challenging times

Movie Monday: Little Women

5 things moms need

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

the importance of a good work ethic

importance of work ethic

The other day while at a local place of business, I noticed that several of the employees were bustling around doing their jobs. Save one. A teen had plopped on a folding chair, legs extended, proceeding to be on his phone for a majority of the time I was patronizing this business.

A relative of mine has a coworker who routinely shows up late for work, and at times, doesn’t show up for work at all. Such a choice has placed the business in a bind on several occasions. It has also made more work for the employees who take their jobs seriously.

A local business manager shared with me that they are struggling to find help to fill all of their available positions, and when they do find help, a lot of those workers are unreliable.

Poor work ethic seems to have become more prominent. There are several reasons for this:

– Inadequate instruction of the importance of work ethic on the part of their parents, whereby children are “given” everything and not required to earn anything.

– A culture that thrives on a “microwave” mentality of wanting everything right now and lacks the patience to work hard for anything. (Case in point: the new 20-year-old employee who wants to be paid the same amount as the 50-year-old who has been at a company for 15 years).

– Paying people more to sit at home than to work, as has been the case this past year.

– Refusal of employees to acknowledge they are stealing from their employer by way of using company time to scan social media, play video games, or making personal phone calls.

How can we instill the importance of a good work ethic in our children?

Model it. We can hardly expect our children to exhibit a strong work ethic if we ourselves are lazy and uncommitted to hard work.

Practice it. Our children and teens need to see us regularly practicing our own strong work ethic.

Encourage it from an early age. This can be done in the form of helping parents with projects and regular age-appropriate chores.

Clearly communicate what is expected. Explain patiently and thoroughly the task at hand and what is required.

Encourage volunteerism. Doing something for someone without expectation of payment is one of the most critical ways we can instill a powerful work ethic.

Acts 20 35

Embolden our kids to work for something they want. It is amazing how, when a teen has to pay for something from his or her own funds, that it no longer is a “necessity”. We need to teach our children that things are expensive (and never more than in recent days!) and that someone had to work to afford that “luxury”. When our teens have to pay for something themselves from time to time, they begin to value the importance of the hard work that allowed them to purchase that item.

Encourage them to go the extra mile and to take initiative. My oldest daughter often asks “what can I do to help?” I love it that she coined this phrase (and then acted upon it!) from an early age.

Teach respect for authority. The Bible has much to say about respecting authority. From the time our children are toddlers, we as parents should be teaching them that respecting authority is paramount, with God being our primary authority, followed by parents. If our children are unable to obey their first authority (us, after God), then they will be unable to obey other authorities, i.e., teachers, employers, and the police.

Instill the importance of being a team player.

Teach children that school is one of their first jobs. Whether they are homeschooled or attend a private, charter, or public school, their educational experience is one of their first jobs. A child who takes their education seriously will be better able to grow into a valued employee.

Don’t be afraid to allow “life lessons”. If your teen makes the choice to arrive at work late of his or her own accord, don’t rescue them from the consequences.

Most importantly, encourage your children to remember that whatever they do, do it as if doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

Colossians 3 23

When my daughters and niece and nephews were toddlers, they could transform our home into a war zone in a matter of minutes. Nearly all of the toys, books, and dress-up clothes from the playroom migrated to other parts of the house in a split second, as five creative minds embarked on whimsical adventures. When it was time for my niece and nephews to return home, we played a game called “Tornado”.  I set the oven timer and encouraged the toddlers to become tornadoes. How fast could they whirl around the room and return the items to their homes?

With the fervor and zeal of cyclones, five little kiddos flurried in all different directions, retrieving toys, books, and dress-up clothes and returning them to their rightful homes. They giggled as they sometimes bonked into a fellow “tornado”, and in the generous time allotted, my home soon took on a somewhat clean appearance once again.

Sometimes we, as parents, have to be creative in teaching our children the responsibility that leads to a strong work ethic. But by doing so, we can, with a lot of prayer and help from the Lord, instill in our children a character trait that will impact their lives forever.

 


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on, part 1

13 verses to comfort the fearful heart

conquering the joy zappers of life

you might be a writer if…10 ways to know

you might be a homeschool mom if…(15 clues)

how to build close bonds with your kids

the importance of new beginnings

28 verses for uncertain times

training for the mom Olympics

I dashed through high winds and zigzagged between the parked station wagons, Pintos, and VW Bugs, in the pursuit of a runaway cart in the grocery store parking lot.

The cart sped through the crowded parking lot and toward an intersection, attempting to mar the glossy finishes of luxury SUVs and sports cars.

And then I knew what I must do. The situation at hand had left me little choice.

I knelt down and tightened the laces on my Brooks running shoes, thankful I wasn’t wearing flip flops today.

Then, with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gazelle, I took off across the parking lot after the shopping cart.

My heart pounded. Would I be fast enough?

Finally, I reached for the shopping cart handle just seconds before what would have been a disastrous situation. I wiped the sweat from my brow. Another rogue cart apprehended in the name of justice!

I returned to our SUV, climbed in, and glanced into the back seat. My kids appeared in shock with mouths wide open. “Mom!” Doodle gasped. “You were amazing. You should be in the Olympics – the Mom Olympics!”

So, as of that day a few years back, I began training for the Mom Olympics. An arduous task for sure. And yes, I need a bit of help on my hurdles. Case in point: when my girls were babies, I had a wooden gate up to keep them out of my home office. One day, in my haste to get out of the room quickly, my foot caught on the top of the gate, and I landed with a thud, the air knocked completely out of me. Never have I been so thankful for these strong bones God blessed me with.

But I was not deterred. In time and with much practice, my hurdling became second nature and I was soon able to leap across toys left strewn on the floor in a single bound (Super Mom anyone?)

I closed my eyes and imagined my future self…

So when the application for the Mom Olympics arrived in the mail, I quickly listed my qualifications, beginning with past accomplishments:

  • Carrying my children everywhere when they were younger (which built strong biceps and triceps)
  • Bending and stooping to pick up the toys and food my children continually threw on the floor from their high chairs when they were babies (which built strong quad muscles)
  • Amazing overall body fitness from pushing my two children in the baby jogger up grueling hills
  • Dexterity and balance in hopping on one foot (in agony) whenever I stepped on a Lego or fossilized Cheerio left on the floor
  • The runaway cart episode, showing my aptitude for speed and finesse and the ability to react in stressful situations.

In the “current accomplishments” category, I proudly listed the highlights of the second phase of my training:

  • Totally built biceps and shoulder muscles from constantly lifting and hauling the gym bag that my kids and I share for the local gym
  • Running the kids everywhere for their activities during their tween and early teen years (built endurance as a long-distance runner)
  • Experience in juggling (juggling multiple tasks as a wife and mom)
  • A friendly competition with my oldest daughter (who is a force to be reckoned with) on the rowing machine
  • A friendly competition with my youngest daughter while running (I came in second place)

With all that practice, it didn’t take much creativity to imagine myself in an Olympic marathon. I would be competing against the fiercest of competitors, knowing that it was just a matter of time before the gold medal graced my neck.

Someday, although I’m not rushing this…I will be a grandma training for the Grandma Olympics. Until then, I am thrilled to have been approved by the Mom Olympics CEO to participate in this year’s worldwide event.


To my fellow moms who have/had a collection of shirts adorned with dried spit-up stains; who’ve won awards for the least amount of sleep while promising their infants a trip to Disneyland if they would just sleep for more than a half hour at a time; who daily risk tender toes stepping on Legos and Cheerios.

To my fellow moms who’ve spent hours upon hours on their knees praying for their kids (and still do!); to those who’ve survived the tumultuous teenage years; and to those who’ve risked their lives teaching their children how to drive.

To stay-at-home-moms, homeschool moms, work-at-home-moms, work-outside-the-home moms, foster care moms…to all moms…Happy Mother’s Day!

Being a mom is truly the best job in the world, and I’m beyond grateful God blessed me with this honor. And I’m grateful for a faithful mom who exemplified the importance of loving her family well, being kind, having a strong work ethic, and loving the Lord with all her heart. Thank you, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the great toilet paper caper

5 things moms need

leaving a godly legacy

7 ways to encourage your children

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

the importance of recognizing your influence

the video camera is always on part 4

Last week in my continuing series, I talked about two key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds. Today, I’ll be discussing how our kids are always watching the example we set in our marriages and how we treat our spouse. I’ll also be discussing how we react when others wrong us.

Marriage can be tough. It is purely by the grace of God that two completely different people with different pasts can come together, warts and all, and share a love that spans a lifetime.

While no marriage is perfect, we can do our best to be a half of a marriage that honors God and sets a good example for our children. It has been said that our daughters will emulate us as wives when they themselves marry and that they will choose husbands with similar character traits as their dads. The same is true for our sons, who look to their dads for an example of what a man should be in his role as a husband; and at moms for what type of wife they will seek.

So how can we show our children an example of a marriage worth mirroring?

Spend time together. Set aside the first 15 minutes when your spouse arrives home from work (or you, if you arrive after your spouse) to greet each other, talk about your day, and connect. Yes, there are a million other things that will be vying for your attention, but making your spouse a priority is critical.

Spend time in the Word as a couple. To do so in our busy world, we have to be intentional. Set aside time to pray together and seek to know the Lord better through reading the Bible.

Put your spouse before yourself. A fun article depicting a couple who celebrated their 85th wedding anniversary in 2020 and is likely the longest married couple in America, discusses the importance of spending time together participating in the favorite interests of the other spouse. Husband Ralph states in the article that “Dorothy loves ballroom dancing and I loved to shoot clay targets…I joined her with ballroom dancing and she joined me with trap shooting.”

Deal with conflict appropriately. Conflict, grudges, irritation, differing ideas, disagreements…and the list goes on. While we may have a lot in common with our spouse, we aren’t them and they aren’t us. When conflict arises – and it will – we need to deal with it appropriately. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”.

Be kind. Matthew 7:12 applies heartily to marriages. Treat your spouse as you would like to be treated.

Serve your spouse. There are a million little ways we can serve our spouse that make a huge impact.

Make building a strong marriage a priority.

Another area where our kids will imitate us is in how we react when someone wrongs us.

This is a tough one. No one can sail through life without painful relationships, broken friendships, and just plain crossing the paths of mean people. Hurts happen, and how we respond when someone has wronged us is another area where our children are watching us to see how we respond.

Do we respond in kind? Do we hide our pain? Do we get defensive and seek revenge? Do we ignore the offending party?

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. There will be those times when we aren’t able to live at peace with someone and the best we can do is to distance ourselves from that person and continue to pray for them.

However, for those other times (which should be in the majority), our children are watching to see if we react with forgiveness, seeking reconciliation if possible, and remembering that we are called to imitate Christ in our actions (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Do we respond in humility? Ask for forgiveness when we are in the wrong?

None of these proper responses is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. In our fallen natures, it’s much easier to take a different route of bitterness, unrighteous anger, and gossip.

Our children will imitate how we respond with someone who hurt us the next time someone hurts them.

Please join me next time for our final segment in this series where I’ll be discussing how our children mimic our healthy habits (or lack thereof) and how we respond during trials.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on part 1

the video camera is always on part 2

the video camera is always on part 3

the importance of new beginnings

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

7 ways to inspire others

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids

the video camera is always on part 3

Last week, I talked about the importance of showing children our faith. I discussed the fact that our kids are watching our faith. And not only are they watching our faith, they are mimicking it. Even at a young age.

In this segment, I’ll expound on two other key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds.

1.Our priorities.

A godly woman’s priorities can easily get disordered, especially in a busy world with so many things vying for our attention. Combine that with the constant struggle to manage our time well and wishing we had more of it. Suddenly, our best-intentioned priorities become out-of-whack. Sometimes those priorities can be as simple as frittering precious time away on our computers or cell phones. Social media, email, mindless browsing on devices, too much TV, unable to say no to every demand, and not staying on track can disintegrate the structure of our priorities.

It’s been said that we will make time for that which is truly important to us. Do our kids see what is truly important to us? That growing closer to God, spending time with our spouse and building a strong marriage (more about marriage in Part 4), and mothering our children are important to us? Or do they see a barrage of other “important” items filling up our days?

Here are some suggestions to keep our priorities in check:

Be there when your kids need you. So many parents today are absent, not only physically, but mentally. Our children face a harsh culture within an even harsher world. They need us to be physically, emotionally, and mentally present for them.

Give them your full attention when they talk. We must combat what I call the “uh-huh response” – nodding and saying “uh-huh” at “appropriate” times when our child is talking to us. There are times when we, as moms, are in the middle of working or another project and aren’t able to drop everything. In our house, if I can’t give one of my kids my full attention, including eye contact and being 100% present, I ask my kids to give me a minute to finish what I’m doing. This helps me to switch gears and be able to fully focus on them, and it teaches them patience.

Give ample time for open discussions. As I mentioned in my post How to Build Close Bonds with Your Kids, sometimes the car is the best place for conversations. The best place, that is, if they aren’t competing with the radio, movies, or other distractions.

Make sure your kids see you spending time with their dad and making that a priority.

Do things together as a family and create family traditions.

Model caring for your home and the duties that come along with that. This will vary depending on which spouse/parent is responsible for which duties in the home or if one is a single parent.

If you homeschool, let your kids see that as a priority.

Spend time in God’s Word.

Take time to rest and refresh. It’s important that our kids see that we are not superhuman. We need down time. For us, after church on Sundays is our “veg” day. We don’t spend time on any cell phones or devices. Instead, we relax, read, play games, or go on a bike ride as a family.


2. What we allow into our minds.

What do we allow to fill our mind? What do we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear? Do we tell our kids that they shouldn’t listen to certain music artists, watch certain movies, or read certain books? But then we do it ourselves? Yes, while we are adults and can listen to/watch/read more mature items than our children can, it’s important to set a good example.

We are told in Philippians 4:8 what types of things to focus on and allow into our minds.

“But, Mom, you watch those type of shows. But, Dad, you play those violent video games. Why can’t I?”

Guarding our own eyes and ears is of utmost importance.

What goes in will come out in our attitude, personality, and the way we treat others. Let’s be careful what we take in – because our children will see what comes out.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on, part 1

the video camera is always on, part 2

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

8 things I want my daughters to know

for such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

you might be a writer if…(10 ways to know)

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

the video camera is always on part 2

Last week, I began a new series detailing how our children are always watching and learning from us. In The Video Camera is Always On Part 1, I listed some areas where our kids are watching to see how we react to situations and circumstances. They watch how we live our lives, the choices we make, and whether or not our words align with our actions.

Today, I will be expounding on the fact that our kids are watching our faith. And not only are they watching our faith, they are mimicking it. Even at a young age.

One day several years ago, I noticed my youngest daughter Doodle was sitting on the floor with her little red New Testament Gideon Bible reading to her baby dolls, one in her lap, and the rest of the dolls lined up on the toy couch. While at her young age, Doodle couldn’t yet read, she had memorized Bible passages and reiterated them as she snuggled her “babies”.

Gratitude and humility coursed through me because, as every mom knows, we don’t do things perfectly. Or even well at times. Raising children is a challenging, but wonderful job, and we need God’s help every step of the way. And by the grace of God, I was teaching my daughter the importance of not only reading her Bible, but reading it to her “children”.

Our kids are watching our faith, or lack thereof. They are watching to see where we spend the majority of our time. Do we choose to spend any of it studying God’s Word? Or is He an afterthought? Do we disciple our kids and teach them about Jesus? Read to them from their Bibles? Is God the main focus in our home?

Life is busy, to be sure, and it’s not uncommon for us to run out of hours in the day with a leftover to-do list a mile long by the time we plop into beds far later than we anticipated. But these are valid questions we, as parents, must ask ourselves to be sure we are emulating Godly behavior to our children.

It is critical for us to let our children see our walk with the Lord. We must give our children Christlike habits to mimic. And no, we won’t do it perfectly and we will make mistakes, and there will be days when, much to our disappointment, we look more like the world than we do our Savior. But with His help, we can endeavor to show our kids the meaning of a life surrendered to – and lived for – Jesus.

Do they see that spending time with the Lord is very important to us? Do they witness our reliance on God when things are tough? Our gratitude when a prayer is answered? Do they accompany us to church? Is church a regular occurrence or an event we only attend on Easter and Christmas? Do they see us display an active prayer life? Do they see us worshiping and loving the One who gave His life for us?

From the time my girls were babies, we attended church. They knew that this was a major part of our lives. Many times, they didn’t want to go to the nursery or to children’s church, and I never insisted they go. Instead, we brought along our “Nanie bag”, a homemade bookbag made by my grandma (their great-grandma) Nanie, that carried designated items used only for church.

Crayons, a notebook, snacks, and a few special toys that encouraged their imaginations (quiet toys, such as baby dolls or stuffed animals to be respectful of others), toys they played with only at church. As long as they were not being disruptive, they stayed with me in the pews. I never demanded they refrain from uttering a peep. Church isn’t for the “perfectly quiet” people. It’s for sinners like me and God doesn’t demand we do it flawlessly. While the girls knew they could play with their toys, they understood that they needed to be respectful.

As our children get older, we need to teach them that Jesus is the only way (John 14:6), that salvation is through Jesus alone (Acts 4:12), and that His Word is the only truth meter we have. It is the only thing we can measure everything against. God and His Word are the only things that will never change.

If we don’t teach our children the Truth, the world will vie for their attention and endeavor to teach them otherwise. We must remain steadfast.

But all the words and all the reading and all the worshipping means nothing if we aren’t living what we preach. Actions are profound, and we can be sure those little eyes aren’t missing a thing.

When our children are teens, the foundation will have been set. Not to say that all hope is lost if we haven’t been able to give them a godly start. No matter what age and stage our children are in, it’s never too late to model our faith. And because teens can bring their own unique set of circumstances due to their ages and the pressures they face everyday in our secular culture, we can enlist the assistance of trusted godly mentors, along with plentiful prayer, to help our teens get on the right track. God wants us to rely on Him in every facet of our lives, even discipling an unbelieving teen.

No matter the age of our kids, we must make modeling our faith to our children and laying a foundation in Christ within our children’s hearts and lives a top priority. God’s grace is sufficient, even in our most inadequate moments, of which there will be many. And He is there to help us every step of the way and every moment that video camera is on.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on, part one

8 things I want my daughters to know

how to build close bonds with your kids

Movie Monday: Little Women

14 things for girls to consider before dating

you might be a homeschool mom if…(15 clues)

the video camera is always on part 1

Welcome to my new series about the importance of being good role models for our children. It’s not always easy, and we definitely won’t do it perfectly.

But we aren’t after perfection. Rather, we are after trying our best to raise our children for the Lord with His tender, gracious, and patient assistance. We are striving for grace, humility, and forgiveness. For kindness, understanding, and patience.

According to the Barna Group, “What we build into a child’s life prior to the age of 13 represents the moral and spiritual foundation that defines them as individuals and directs their choices for the remainder of their life. Garbage in, garbage out…”

Let those words sink in.

While we will still make a difference in our children’s life long after they are 13, those first formative years, according to the quote above, are the most critical in laying the groundwork.

When we were first married, I bought my husband a video camera for Christmas. Back then, video cameras were much bigger than they are today. In fact, this video camera was the size of the kind you see in movie studios. After we had children, we found ourselves being the only ones with an oversized camcorder at birthday parties and playdates. The video camera served us well until it died and we were forced to buy a newer more compact model.

These days, we simply record with our cell phones. Smaller, more efficient, and always at the ready.

It didn’t matter if our video camera was two feet long or hand-held size, or built into our cell phones: it recorded with the simple touch of a button. Our children are like video cameras – they record what goes on around them, whether they’re teens, toddlers, or somewhere in between.

Our kids are watching our habits.

My husband Lon is addicted to condiments. He loves ketchup, salsa, sour cream, salad dressing, and especially mayonnaise. It’s not uncommon for my condiment king to have a condiment as his main meal with a side of hamburger. Forget the dream home or the new shiny Dodge truck. Nope, large barrels with spigots continually full of a variety of condiments would be Lon’s dream come true.

One day our oldest daughter, Sunshine, sat down to eat dinner. I watched as she poured piles of ketchup, sour cream, and salsa on her taco. Because I like everything plain, such behavior is utterly gross to me.

Like father, like daughter. Sunshine had grown up with a condiment king father and now she had become the condiment princess. Our kids model our behavior whether we realize it or not. They model our behavior – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The healthy and the unhealthy habits. And just like a video camera, they record the world and the examples around them, including those set my their parents.

Our kids are watching our faith

At the Easter service at church, we sat behind a family with two kids. The mom and kids appeared excited to be at church and eager to partake in the service. The dad? Not so much. There could be a million reasons why the dad’s body language showed a lackluster interest in being in church that day, and I won’t try to interpret the reason because that’s not the purpose of this post. However, what is the purpose is that the son, the younger of the two children, at about 12 years old, continually watched the dad.

He looked to his dad at every turn. When we sang, when we prayed, when we listened to the sermon, and when we stood up and filed out of the sanctuary.

When we show the value of our faith in our lives, it sets a Godly example for our kids of what is important.

Our kids are watching how we react.

How did we react when someone was unkind to us? When a fellow driver cut us off in traffic? When a friend betrays us? When our boss or coworker treat us badly?

Again, we are not after perfection. But we are after setting a Godly example. Kids mimic what they see.

Our kids are watching our humility.

How do we react when we are the recipients of harsh words or something hateful? When we make a mistake? When we fail to curb our temper? Our children are watching our humility and our willingness (or lack thereof) to admit to a mistake. It’s especially critical that when we, as parents, make a mistake affecting our children that we apologize.

Our kids are watching our responses.

Last year was an interesting year to say the least. While most are happy that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror, many, including myself are facing some concern as to what 2021 may bring. While it is easy to fear and become anxious over the many frightening changes our current year is bringing, we as parents have to remember that in the midst of that anxiety and fears, our children are watching how we respond.

It is truly only by God’s grace that in the midst of troubling times, we can turn to and rest in Him. It is only by spending time in prayer and in His Word that we can turn from the troubling issues at hand and keep our eyes on Him.

Our children are watching how we respond to all the craziness of our current times. They are watching when we turn to God, when we pray, when we immerse ourselves in His Word, and when we cry out to Him.

Next week, I’ll expound on the above topics and provide resources to help us for all of those times when the red “recording” light is on and our children are watching.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on, part 2

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

28 verses for uncertain times

the importance of Christmas

you might be a writer if…10 ways to know

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

6 ways to encourage other moms

how to build close bonds with your kids

A mom recently posted a question in a Facebook group. She needed encouragement in her parenting journey after hearing from several parents that she needed to enjoy her time with her children now (all under six-years-old) because when her children were teens, they would hate her and wouldn’t want anything to do with her. She asked how she could maintain a strong relationship with her children into adulthood.

Should we expect the close relationship we have with our little ones to change as they get older? Should that just be one more thing to worry about on the lengthy list of parenting concerns?

While it’s true that our relationships with our children change several times over the course of their growing to adulthood, it doesn’t mean that it has to be something negative. It’s important to note that the blanket statement of children hating us once they become tweens and teens or not wanting to spend any time with us is simply not true for everyone.

So how can we build close bonds with our children that last far into adulthood? And while the ideal would be to start these suggestions when our children are very young, we can never go wrong strengthening those bonds no matter what age our children are.

Here are some ways to build close bonds with your kids:

Give your relationship with your children to the Lord. This is by far the most important suggestion and not a one-time prayer. Surrender your parenting to Jesus, seek His guidance, and endeavor, with His help, to be the kind of parent our Heavenly Father is to us.

Pray with and for your children without ceasing.

Spend time with your kids. Suggestions include listening, learning, singing, dancing, reading, playing games, and going for bike rides. Ask your children for ideas.

Spend one-on-one time with each child. When you’re a mom, the days go by at an unprecedented pace. There is just so much to do and so little time! But it’s critical to spend time with your children one-on-one on a regular basis. Some suggestions? Take a walk, go out for ice cream, plan a “girls day” complete with hair appointments, or celebrate at home with manicures. Again, ask each child for suggestions.

Make church, Bible study, and worship a priority.

Celebrate their uniqueness. Each of our kids are different, and that’s a good thing!

Make family night a tradition. Once you make this important night a tradition (for us it’s Friday nights) be sure to hold to it. Other activities are sure to come up, but if you make family night a priority, it instills the importance of spending time as a family and shows that other “important” activities can be scheduled around time with family.

Keep communication lines open. The standard “fine” when asked how their day is going can be avoided if you get creative in asking questions. If your kids attend a private or public school, wait a few minutes after they get home to ask them about their day. Children need a chance to transition and recharge. Keep in touch with what’s going in in their “world” and with friends and activities.

Bring up topics of interest. I bring a “topic” to the table each day, usually at lunch because it seems we have more time at that meal. I seek their opinions about the topic before giving mine and always listen to their point of view whether I agree with it or not. It can be any age-appropriate topic and has varied from how to be kind to others when they were little, to abortion when they got older, to today’s topic, which was on a Christian heretic and how we need discernment. As a homeschooling mom, I have an advantage of spending time with my kids that we wouldn’t have if they were in a school setting all day with limited time to spend together after school, sports, jobs, etc. If your child is private or public schooled, plan this time around the dinner table.

Express your gratitude. Have a grateful heart and a humble spirit whenever they do something kind or helpful.

Discipline with fairness and with love.

Be a good listener. Care about what matters to them, and always, always, always let them know how much you love them and how thankful you are that God has chosen you to be their mom.

Teach compassion and empathy for others by modeling it yourself.

Be respectful of them.

Find times to chat. Ever since my daughters were little, we’ve had a rule that we’ve never watched videos in the car. This wasn’t because I’m against videos – I actually love a good movie) – but because car-time is talk time, and if they don’t open up at other times, they will open up in the car (as odd as that sounds). On longer trips, we’d put on Christian tunes and sing together, or on family jaunts, we’d listen to Adventures in Odyssey. Other ideas? Provide a stack of books and travel games. (The license plate game, anyone?)

Don’t encourage your kids to grow up too fast. It really is true that when you blink, your kids will be grown. I didn’t believe it back in those early days of my kids not sleeping through the night and the ensuing severe sleep deprivation. All the milestones that our kids will eventually cross don’t need to be rushed. Take the time to enjoy each stage as it comes.

Priorities, priorities! Those we love should be a priority over all other “things” that clamor for our attention on a daily basis. This includes cell phones (which should never be allowed at the dinner table or family night), social media (fine in small doses, but it should never replace time with our families), choosing to work 24/7 with no time for family, and many, many other time vacuums that are in our busy lives. This is not to say that we make our children selfish because they think they are the only thing that matters (we do have to work, do laundry, and make dinner!), but it is to say that things can never take the place of people and we should never make it seem like they are.

Don’t listen to naysayers. Everyone will have a different parenting experience. Life happens and sometimes things beyond our control get in the way of relationships.

Remember there is no guarantee. A dear friend who was always close to her children recently discovered that one of them, as an adult, has joined a cult and has disowned their family. No matter how hard we try, things can still go in a different direction than we ever would have planned. We do the best we can, then leave the rest to God.


Before you go, check out these other posts on this blog:

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

leaving a godly legacy

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

looking to homeschool? here are 7 things to consider

delectable gluten free chocolate crinkles recipe

how to start a sisters in Christ group

who are you behind the screen?

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Parents are highly influential in a child’s life. Children are also influenced by youth pastors, teachers, social media, peers, coaches, employers, movie stars, sports figures, and their favorite singers.

Our children receive a lot of “information” in today’s media-saturated world by which to base their opinions about everything from what to wear to which stance to take on important world events.

How can we teach our children, that while those who influence them are important (some more than others), they do need to learn to think for themselves?

Encourage good role models. With our patient help and God’s guidance, they can navigate the wide range of choices in today’s society and choose a role model that will influence their lives for the better. For tips, check out 10 ways to help your kids choose good role models.

Give them practice. As a homeschool mom, I’ve often come up with several out-of-the-box assignments designed to help my daughters, not only think for themselves, but to also investigate “all sides of an issue”. My youngest daughter recently began an in-depth assignment I gave her regarding mask usage. Her assignment is to investigate fully the pros and cons and whether or not masks are effective in preventing the spread of Covid. She is also to research and find out if there are any “side effects” with regular mask wearing. This would include researching the opinions and studies of several medical professionals from various outlets, from the private sector to governmental agencies, and everyone in between – with an open mind.

The second part of the assignment is to take a poll/survey on both social media and among family members and friends, encouraging them to weigh in with comments.

The conclusion of her assignment would be to make a decision based on her research.

Other assignments have included: Should we keep the Electoral College? Why or why not? Is socialism a good idea and why are some in the United States pushing for socialism?

During election years, my daughters are given assignments to fully investigate and research the candidates running for offices, whether they be local, county, state, or federal offices. Based on those investigations, they complete a sample ballot indicating who they would vote for and why.

Letters to the editor have also been assigned, as well as research on world religions and how they compare to Christianity.

Encourage them to investigate. As I mentioned in my mask assignment, it’s critical to encourage our kids to investigate. Everything. Every day, I bring a topic to our breakfast table and my daughters and I discuss it. I have been doing this since they were little, and the topics have always been age-appropriate. We’ve ventured into such topics as peer pressure, drinking, drugs, what to look for in a husband, abortion, politics, and current events.

You don’t have to be a homeschooling family to give “practice assignments” or investigate topics over the breakfast table. The dinner table works just as well, as does time in the car going to and from activities. Also, public-schooled children will have an additional dynamic to add to the conversation based on their day at a public school.

Make time for important discussions. No matter what type of schooling your family partakes in, or even if your children are still too young to attend school or are college-aged, make time to have those important chats. You will never regret time spent with your children and time spent finding out what matters to them and what struggles they face. Having open dialogue helps them with important decisions and to think through those decisions with the assistance of trusted adults and siblings.

Encourage discernment. We live in a crazy, fast-paced, oftentimes biased world. Some influencers don’t have your children’s best interests at heart. Their “ideas” may be extreme, or at the very least, far different than those that are healthy or even reasonable for your child.

Teach your children how to discern between what is right and what is wrong. The only true and reliable “truth meter” to base discernment on is God’s Word. It is the only Truth that never changes in an ever-changing, chaotic world. If something is against His Word, then it’s not something we should espouse.

For example, many of today’s youth have been encouraged to destroy other people’s property or even harm people in the name of “peaceful protesting”. What does God’s Word have to say about burning, looting, destroying property and harming people?

The Bible is clear that we need to treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated.

Encourage them to ask questions. Questions are a good thing and should be encouraged. It’s how they learn and it ensures they will take nothing at face value, but question all things.

Encourage respect. I’m not too young that I don’t remember a time when people could agree to disagree. A time when we could still care about and be friends with those with differing opinions. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.

In teaching our children to think for themselves, we must also teach them that when they do disagree with someone, whether it be politics, religion, medical choices, or something as mundane as what brand of clothes is best, they can do it respectfully. And to disagree respectfully does not mean that they condone the choices or behavior of the other party. It simply means that they choose not to disparage others due to differences of opinion.

Encourage logic. Some great resources for teaching your children logic are The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills ,The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning, and The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies, Student Text, Revised.

In a world where at times evil is bent on securing your child’s devotion, make it a point to come alongside your child and teach them to think for themselves. To stand strong in the face of adversity, to question things that seem “off” and to, above all else, allow the Holy Spirit and the precious words found within the pages of the Bible to guide them in making the right decisions.

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

10 Bible Verses to Start off Your Day

10 Ways to Help Your Kids Choose Good Role Models

Are you showing the difference?

Where is your focus? Finding peace of mind in a world of negativity

14 things for girls to consider before dating

You might be homeschool mom if…

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)